Lake George
Darrin Fresh Water Institute,
5060 Lake Shore Drive
Bolton Landing, NY 12814

PH: (518) 644-3541
Fax:(518) 644-3640

DFWI is a multidisciplinary environmental research center of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute dedicated to understanding the structure and function of aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric systems. Our primary research focus is on the ecological consequences of environmental perturbations due to human activities in the Northeastern United States.

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PlanktonPlankton Cam! - The Jefferson Project & IBEIS Collaborate
by Mary Martialay


Among my favorite research projects at Rensselaer are two — the Jefferson Project at Lake George, and the Image Based Ecological Information System (IBEIS) — that use data and computation to understand and protect our environment. So my interest was piqued when I heard researchers involved with the two projects were planning a collaboration. A collaboration that, for the purposes of this blog post, I’m calling “Plankton Cam.”

The idea behind Plankton Cam is to: tow a specialized camera through the waters of Lake George, capturing more than 100,000 images per day; use advanced pattern recognition software to sort resulting images of phytoplankton by species; and then develop tools to visualize the distribution patterns of the animals at the base of the Lake George food web. The camera, pictured to the left, was developed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

When fully realized, Plankton Cam (the proposal’s official name is “Building a Three-Dimensional Model of the Plankton Distribution in Lake George”) will allow researchers to identify microscopic species at a rate that is, according to the proposal, “orders of magnitude faster than the traditional approach” — in which researchers gather water samples and manually identify species through a microscope.

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The Institute is an integral part of the environmental initiative at Rensselaer. Internships involving both laboratory instruction and intensive field studies are held at the Lake George site.

Student participation in research activities at the Institute is encouraged with a number of student internships available each summer.

Be sure to check out our "First Year Experience" for RPI incoming freshmen.


Featured Photo


Algal Bloom on West Brook wetland Lake George, NY (photo: Jeremy Farrell)

All Photos seen throughout this site were taken by DFWI Faculty and Staff unless otherwise noted.




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The Jefferson Project:


New Data Visualization Lab Unveiled at DFWI
Cutting Edge Sensors to be Deployed Around Lake George.

BOLTON LANDING-October 19th, 2014— Soon an army of sensors equipped with IBM “smart” technology will take positions around Lake George and its tributaries to collect and send intelligence back to a cutting-edge laboratory on the shore in the most high-tech offensive in the world against threats to lake health.

The new data visualization laboratory at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute in Bolton Landing was unveiled Friday, marking a milestone in the Jefferson Project at Lake George, a collaboration between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM and The Fund for Lake George.

“This is a big data approach to protection. It’s what you do with the data to understand trends, not only as they occur to date, but as they’re likely to occur into the future. With this data and modeling capacity, we can understand what it’s going to take to keep Lake George from falling off an ecological cliff,” said the Fund’s Executive Director Eric Siy.

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RPI Announces Major Gift From Trustee and Alumnus to Support Data Visualization Laboratory
New Facility To Be Named The Helen-Jo and John E. Kelly III '78 Data Visualization Laboratory

TROY, NY-October 19th, 2014 - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today announced a major gift from Rensselaer trustee and alumnus John E. Kelly III, class of 1978, and his wife, Helen-Jo, of Poughquag, N.Y. The leadership gift will create an endowed fund at Rensselaer to support ongoing research at the Helen-Jo and John E. Kelly III '78 Data Visualization Laboratory, located at the Margaret A. and David M. Darrin '40 Fresh Water Institute (DFWI) in Lake George.

The Data Visualization Laboratory was built to support the Jefferson Project at Lake George - a groundbreaking collaboration between Rensselaer, IBM, and the FUND for Lake George that is bringing together ecologists, hydrologists, computer scientists, environmental advocates, and experts in cyber infrastructure and other fields to gain an unprecedented understanding of the complex systems that operate within and around Lake George.

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Mapping Lake George:




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